If you were to ask me where I’m from I would lie to you. Where I come from has a history, one I wish wasn’t associated with me. No matter where I go it seems to follow me. If only I hadn’t lived there at that particular time, what choice did I have? I was just a kid. The choices I made didn’t seem to help. I was a curious kid and so were my friends. We thought it was all a hoax, we didn’t want to believe that there was something living in the lake. The things we saw in the summer of ‘76 were unbelievable, but then again that seems to be the only way people know about the small town of Jason, Arkansas.
School had just let out and we were as free as can be. We had all sorts of plans to get up to. There was a new community pool that was sure to be a hot spot, we couldn’t wait to try it out. Every kid in town watched with unbridled enthusiasm all winter as it was being built, just waiting for when they could splash around in it.
I rode my bike over to my friend Luke’s house, his mom was going to drop us off over there. We waited for our other friend, Ben, to show up then we’d be off.
“Hey Flynn, you ready?” Luke asked me.
“Born ready. Where’s Ben?”
“He should be here by now.” We both looked to the street hoping to see him. We were lucky, he was headed straight for us. He threw his hand in the air to get our attention. We waved back.
We jumped out of the car as soon as Luke’s mom stopped the car.
“You boys be careful! And be nice!” She hollered at us. We waved in response and ran to the entrance. She drove off. When we got to where we were going we were stopped by a lady standing behind a counter.
“Hey boys.” She smiled at us.
“Hey,” we all responded in unison. We stood there waiting for her to let us in.
“It’ll be five dollars each if you wanna swim.” she said.
“What?!” Ben yelled.
“You think this place just runs by itself? It cost money to run all that water.” She gave us a look like we should have seen this coming.
“Let’s call my mom to pick us up I guess.” Said Luke. “We can grab our bikes, I know another place we can swim and I bet no one will be there.”
When we had gotten to the place that Luke was talking about we all looked at each other in dismay. It was a filthy old lake. Of course no one would be here because it was probably full of snakes!
“You call this a good idea?” I asked Luke.
“It’s just as good as a pool! There ain’t any snakes if that’s what you’re thinking. Come on, I’ll show you.” He dropped his bike and stalked off towards the water. The rest of us gave each other one last look then followed after him. We stopped at the water’s edge. No one was willing to go first.
“Go on then, Luke,” Ben said. “Get in.” Luke put his foot in, then the next. Having both feet in he seemed to gain some confidence, he started walking in further. He got all the way out and dove under. When he came up he was smiling.
“Come on in boys!” Then he swam out farther. Convinced it was alright we splashed our way out into the water.
We swam for most of the day, taking breaks by lying in the sun. On one particular break I decided to get up and take a walk. The other two just lay there not talking. I put my hand over my eyes and got a look of my surroundings. It was a bright day and there was a dense ring of trees around the lake. I headed southward and kicked the tall grass out of my way as I went. I got about twenty yards from my comrades when something strange colored caught my eye. I moved closer to get a better look. It was mostly covered in dirt and loose grass so I couldn’t quite tell what it was. I pushed it with my hand and found it to be pretty heavy. I pulled it out of its hiding spot and was sudden struck cold. It had eyes and was staring right up at me. They were glassed over and not seeing but they were facing me just the same. I screamed and ran back to my friends.
“AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” I screamed the whole way back. Ben and Luke jumped up so fast you would have thought the ground had shocked them.
“What?!” they said in unison.
“There’s a head!” I screamed, my voice growing hoarse.
“What are you talking about?” The questions were coming at the same time. I tried to calm myself down. The head was just a head after all. It wasn’t like it was going to do anything. I took a deep breath then let it all out with my words in a rush.
“There’s a head over there,” I indicated with my outstretched hand, the other on my knee. “It’s just a head. There’s no body.” I continued to breathe heavily trying to catch my breath. I think I was having a panic attack.
“Show me.” Was all Luke said. So I took them over there.
It was still where I’d left it. Now that I wasn’t scared anymore I was pretty grossed out.
“That’s sick.” Luke said, if he was grossed out or in awe I couldn’t tell which. Maybe it was both.
“I think I’m going to throw up.” Ben said. He did look a little green. We walked closer to take in all the details.
It was gray, just like in the movies. It was big and round, not much different from a man’s head. The skin was sagging and wet looking. The nose was gone, its mouth hung open. There were some really sharp teeth sticking out of it. There was what looked like a dried and crusted fin at the top. We could see the neck bones sticking out at the bottom. The worst part, though, was that there was a huge bite mark on the right side of the head where the ear would have been.
“What the hell do you think it is?” Luke asked, he was moving it around with a stick.
“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” I said, I couldn’t take my eyes off of the head. The bite mark did look strange, it was too big to be a coyote and it was square shaped. There were, however, very clearly teeth marks in the skin.
“We should show it to someone.” Ben said.
“Yeah. Let’s go.” I grabbed the head, carrying it away from my body.
Halfway back to our bikes a sound stopped us. It was coming from the tall grass by the bank of the lake. It sounded like something had shifted in the grass. It wasn’t close, it was probably about forty yards from us but it finally stood up and looked at us. The thing we saw was not what we expected. It stood about as tall as a full grown man and it was green. A deep green and it was shiny. It’s eyes were completely black and it showed its teeth in a horrifying grin. We were frozen. It slunk back into the grass, we bolted. We got back on our bikes and sped back to Luke’s house. The image of the thing burned into my brain.
Over the next few days all everyone could talk about was the head. Everyone seemed to think it was just a big fish who had been gutted and it’s head was left on the bank. Luke, Ben and I of course knew the truth. There had been a photo of the head on the news but people were still skeptical. No one wanted to believe that such a monster could actually exist. There were some who loved the idea of a real live lake monster, only because it was already dead. Luke, Ben and I were constantly questioned by some of the kids we went to school with. They either thought we were crazy when we told them there was still a monster out there or they thought we were just playing around to get more attention. Either way, no one was believing us. We were getting fed up.
“I say we get some photographic evidence. Then they’ll all believe us and quit laughing at us.” Luke said one day after Daisy, the girl he had a crush on at the time, just laughed in his face.
“Let’s do it.” I said. Ben and Luke both looked at me in surprise.
“Are you serious?” Ben asked. “What if it does to us what it did to its friend?”
“We won’t get that close to it, just close enough to get it’s picture then run. We just need to sneak up on it. I say we go at night.” I had the plan pretty much fully formed in my head, I just needed to steal my sister’s Polaroid camera and we’d be set.
“Let’s go tonight then, if you’re that brave.” Luke grunted. He didn’t seem so sure of it.
“Alright then.” I retorted. I looked at Ben. He looked pale, but nodded.
At around 11:30 I grabbed the camera and a flashlight and snuck out my bedroom window. I rode my bike over to Luke’s house, where we all agreed to meet. Ben was already there. I tapped on Luke’s window. The light wasn’t on in his room. I tapped several more times before he finally peaked through the blinds. Once he saw us he opened his window. He looked like I had woken him up.
“Were you sleeping?” I whisper yelled.
“Uh, yeah!” he whisper yelled back.
“You’re not supposed to be asleep! We have a mission to complete. It was your idea, remember?” I was almost ready to knock him in the head with my flashlight.
“I thought you were just joking, I’m not going after that thing!”
“Yes you are. Now get some clothes on and get out here.” I glared at him until he relented.
“Fine. But if I get eaten I’m coming back to haunt you.” He took way too long to get dressed. Stalling. He finally climbed out of his window and we set out for the lake. It was eerily quiet when we arrived, as if the creatures of the lake we waiting in anticipation of what was about to happen.
Nothing good was about to happen.
We slowly walked to where I found the head, thinking maybe we would get the attention of the monster. Nothing happened. Luke was shaking so hard next to me I thought he was going to pee his pants.
“Would you calm down?” I asked, annoyed.
“Oh I’m sorry I’m afraid of an actual monster.” Luke said rather loudly.
“Shhhh!” Ben urged. Suddenly there was a noise. It sounded like twigs snapping and grass shuffling. We all spun around looking for the source. Our flashlights couldn’t find the monster, we all huddled together with our backs to each other.
“Do you you see anything?” Luke asked shakily.
“No,” I replied, “Let’s head back to our bikes. Maybe it’ll follow us.” I didn’t have to tell them twice. They started walking quickly back to the bikes when another disturbance happened to our left. We all stopped. We shined our flashlights at the spot and saw that the tall grass was shaking. I walked a little closer. “Keep your lights shining at it. I’ll get a picture.” I sounded braver than I felt. I crept closer, Ben was following a few feet behind me. Luke stuck to the spot. I was almost at the grass ready to pull it back, my camera at the ready. I heard Luke scream behind me. I turned in time to see that the creature had it’s hand wrapped around Luke’s ankle and was dragging him into the trees. Ben and I ran toward them. I raised my camera and snapped a photo. The flash seemed to blind the monster and it let go of Luke to shield it’s eyes with both of it’s webbed hands. Luke scrambled away on his hands and knees, crying and screaming. Ben and I grabbed him and pulled him to his feet, we bolted to our bikes. We were about to reach them when Luke tripped. He screamed out at us for help. It took us a minute to register what had happened.
When we turned we saw the fish man just inches away from Luke. We weren’t going to make it in time. We pushed our way to Luke but the creature had already grabbed him. It sunk it’s sharp teeth into Luke’s leg. Luke screamed bloody murder. We each grabbed a hand and tried to pull him free of the monster but it was stronger than we were. It yanked once and we lost our footing. We hit the ground and Luke jolted out of our grasps. He was still screaming as the terrible thing dragged him into the water. We couldn’t reach it in time. Luke was dragged under with only bubbles on the surface to show where he had gone.
The next morning they searched the lake for Luke and the lake monster. All they were able to uncover were some bones with bits of meat still clinging to it. There was no sign of a man sized water creature anywhere.